As a full-service public relations agency, Co-Communications has worked with a broad range of businesses to help them “get ink” and increase their share of voice. We’ve drummed up media coverage for everything from new hires and groundbreakings to community relations programs and pet-friendly work places (yes, there was a potbellied pig involved). Whether you own a small business, are part of a Fortune 500 company’s leadership team or are a serial entrepreneur, there are five key things you need to know about public relations:
#1: Great PR stories are built around a few key message points
While some companies have a dedicated spokesperson who serves as the voice of the brand for all media opportunities, other companies have a small group of spokespeople who represent various divisions and services within the company. Regardless of how your company is structured, it is critical that any and all spokespersons are media trained and speaking with a shared voice. Establishing three-to-five key message points can help to ensure all company spokespersons are on the same page and effective brand ambassadors for the company. Too many message points can lead to confusion…and too much ad-libbing can lead to the unintentional spread of misinformation.
#2: Securing a feature story requires strategy and creativity
Who doesn’t want to see their company featured on the cover of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and/or their industry’s leading trade publication? As the media landscape has evolved, more companies have found themselves competing for the same amount of ink. The good news is that while print space has been stagnant, or in some instances shrunk, the volume of online news opportunities for businesses has exploded. What does this mean for your business’s PR program? If you want a feature story you need a unique story angle and a strategy for securing your dream placement. In the best of circumstances, you will also have some proprietary data and a timely tie-in to increase your odds of being featured.
#3: The most effective public relations programs are proactive and ongoing
Reactive public relations programs have limitations. Oftentimes, companies with a reactive PR strategy find themselves trying to ride their competitors’ coattails and stretch the life of stories that have already been through their news cycles. How do you avoid the pitfalls of a reactive PR program? By developing a year-long PR program that blends news releases, pitches and expert/bylined articles to showcase your company’s thought leadership, highlight key products/services and spotlight accolades, partnerships and expansions. Of course, you’ll also want to build an editorial calendar for your business’s PR program to ensure both consistency and timeliness.
#4: To succeed with PR, you need to be willing to stand out from the crowd
Stepping outside of your comfort zone is proven to increase PR success. And, while every company has a different level of risk tolerance, the importance of creativity and stepping outside of the box cannot be overlooked. Reporters receive hundreds if not thousands of emails each day from companies and causes who want to be the epicenter of their next story. And, in a competitive process, you need to emphasize both the unique and the value/relevance your story brings to the publication’s readers.
#5: You need a public relations plan…and a willingness to embrace timely opportunities
Does your business have a public relations strategy? If so, when was the last time you updated your PR strategy? We’ve all heard stories about (if not seen) the PR plan that is sitting on the shelf gathering dust. What you need is a research-informed PR strategy that is actionable and aligned with your company’s overall business plan.
While it is important to plan ahead to ensure a consistent stream of news about your company is making its way to the media, being able to adapt to timely news opportunities is equally important. However, if you are going to tie yourself to timely news – or as David Meerman Scott puts it, newsjack – you need to be sure that company spokespersons are accessible to media and that you are adding value, not clutter, to the conversation.
Public relations can help small businesses and Fortune 500 companies alike to generate a steady stream of media coverage to enhance their website, inspire their email marketing and provide fodder for following-up with business leads. Regardless of your company’s size, target audience, geography and verticals, ensure your messages are on brand, your story angles are unique and that your PR program is built around a research-informed strategy. With a well-built strategy and proactive approach, businesses can achieve PR success and reap the benefits of increased share of voice.